Mar 6, 2023

First Responders Spring Into Action


all them what you will –first-responders, heroes, life-savers – but there’s one thing these brave women and men do when putting on their uniforms, and it’s recognizing their role as community advocates. That’s because they are serving in the community in which they live, work and play, and this is often what drives them to their life of service. There’s not often a day we go without seeing and hearing emergency vehicles responding to incidents. Ambulances rushing to a life-threatening automobile accident or patrol cars racing to a domestic violence call are all too common, making us thankful for individuals willing to risk their own lives for those of the community. “My family is military, so I’ve always admired the (saying) ‘taking care of home.’ I just wanted to take care of the home I’m actually living in, the people that I’m surrounded by every day,” said Pensacola Police Department officer Bianca Malden. Malden began her career with PPD as a part time cadet in 2017, splitting her time between the department and the police academy. She said that path gave her the opportunity to gain insight into a myriad of law enforcement aspects. “That’s why I chose PPD. I heard a lot of good things, but when you come in as a cadet or do ride-alongs prior to (entering the force), you get to see and experience the environment before actually going in all the way,” she said. One of those aspects is her and fellow officers’ sense of community. Let’s face it, no matter the circumstance, nefarious or not, seeing a marked patrol car arrive at your location isn’t always met with elation. But Malden is quick to dispel any negative or intimidating perception of uniformed police officers. “Sometimes it’s hard for people to see beyond the badge and the uniform, ”she said. “You just need to meet them where they are.” Incidentally, being a female police officer does garner more specific, subdued reactions from citizens. “A lot of people are surprised when they see me, saying things like, ‘that’s a woman police officer,’” Malden said, however, she is quick to utilize these reactions as a way to connect with individuals. “I think people are a lot more relaxed with females and more open to talk, in my opinion. ”Before entering the police academy, Malden attended Pensacola State College and is now working on her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Columbia Southern University. Maybe that coursework will enable her to dive into one of her favorite aspects of the job. “I would say the kids, mostly,” she said when asked what she enjoys most. “Just the interaction that I get to be involved in on a daily basis. ”When asked if there was any special training for female police officers, Malden said initial instruction is general for everyone entering the force; however, PPD does recognize that this segment of the department does warrant additional programming. “There are trainings that are put on for females in law enforcement that are specific for female officers, but nothing that was put on prior to starting.” This, along with regular officer training, provides Malden the ability to focus on the core purpose of her service, which is to be alongside community members day to day. “For myself, particularly, I like to get out and talk, and it doesn’t have to be investigative, like asking ‘Who are you? Where do you live? What are you doing out there?’ But rather, ‘Hey, I’m new to this area, I just started working(in this area).’”She added that it’s much easier for a new officer to open up that conversation without people being so standoffish. As for her sense of belonging with the Pensacola Police Department, she is incredibly content with the size and opportunity to advance, which according to Malden is offered equally to all those who exhibit hard work and dedication. “It’s not too big of a department to get lost in, but it’s not too small where there’s no room to grow either, so for me it’s the perfect size.”

WHEN MINUTES COUNT Paramedic and Ft. Walton Beach native Ashley Davis said she knew early on that she wanted to help people in dire situations. She recalls when she was younger, her grandfather became ill and needed an ambulance. She rode with him to the hospital thinking the whole time she wished she were able to help him. “So, after that, I decided I wanted to be a paramedic. After riding in the ambulance, that’s when I knew what I wanted to do,” Davis said. For the past eight years, Davis has seen her share of emergency calls and she said no two calls are the same in this fast-paced profession, and that’s the way she likes it. “I love it. I love that every day you go into work, it’s different every single day,” she said. “I’m an adrenaline junkie. ”Although she may be at the mercy of any particular emergency call, one thing is constant and that is her shift partner, and that scheduling is done on purpose. “It’s very important. When you have a bad call or someone is really sick you can trust your partner because you know their skill level and they know what you need,” she said. This consistency builds trust between paramedics which ultimately results in better care when seconds count during life-threatening situations. Davis works for Lifeguard Ambulance Service, an advanced clinical care company that is contracted by Santa Rosa County to provide ambulance service to that particular county where she happens to reside. She is a huge advocate for health education, namely CPR training, in her community. “I love working where I live because you feel like you can step out and volunteer in the community,” she said. “I feel like CPR is a worthwhile thing to get. Anybody can collapse anywhere. ”When asked what the community can do for paramedics like Davis, she offers a few suggestions but agrees that it’s up to each individual to determine what type of care and response they need to a medical situation, and sometimes those situations aren’t necessarily emergencies. “Utilize urgent care and not call 911 for little things like the sniffles,” she said. That doesn’t mean that the individual calling for help is left completely alone to make the distinction if their situation is, in fact, an emergency. “We are utilizing a new system where we can do(telehealth) over 911, so we can actually get a doctor on the phone with a patient where they don’t have to be seen in the ER. ”This gives the paramedics the added ability to treat patients on scene with the guidance of a doctor to administer basic life support, or BLS, rather than expend resources like crucial time these paramedics need to respond to calls for, say, advanced life support, or ALS. These are chest pains or possible strokes in which “minutes matter. ”Picture it: you’re driving home after a long day at work, Fleetwood Mac blaring “Go Your Own Way” on the radio, and you hear the faint yet growing wail of a siren. You look around and in your rearview mirror you see the fast-approaching ambulance with lights ablaze. The question is, what do you do? “Please move over to the right lane,” said Davis. “Do not stop in the middle of the road. I call it ‘the freak out.’ Just get to the right.

“I love that every day you go into work, it’s different every single day. I’m an adrenaline junkie.”— Paramedic Ashley Davis

“A lot of people are surprised when they see me, saying things like, ‘that’s a woman police officer.’ I think people are a lot more relaxed with females and more open to talk, in my opinion.”— Pensacola Police Department officer Bianca Malden